A Democratic-controlled US House of Representatives committee released six years of former President Donald Trump’s tax returns to the public on Friday in an extraordinary move days before Republicans are due to take control of the chamber.
Release of Trump’s redacted returns for 2015 through 2020 caps a multi-year battle between the Republican former president and Democratic lawmakers that was settled only last month by the US Supreme Court.
It is the latest blow for Trump, 76, who was impeached twice by the Democratic-led House only to be acquitted both times by the US Senate, and now faces multiple legal woes as he mounts a 2024 reelection bid.
Earlier this month, the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol by his supporters asked federal prosecutors to charge him with four crimes including obstruction and insurrection for his role in the deadly riot.
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal requested the returns in 2019, arguing that Congress needed them to determine if legislation on presidential tax returns was warranted.
Republicans said the move could lead to the political weaponisation of individual tax returns and warned that party members who take over the panel next month would face pressure to pursue a similar path against high-profile Democrats.
Trump, who took office in 2017, was the first presidential candidate in decades not to release his taxes. He sued the committee to try to keep them private but the US high court ruled in the committee’s favour.
In a report last week, the committee outlined its findings from its examination of the documents, saying the Internal Revenue Service broke its own rules by not auditing Trump for three out of four years while he was president. Details previously released by the panel showed Trump paid no income tax in 2020, his final full year in office, despite millions of dollars in earnings from his sprawling business empire.
The records show Trump’s income and tax liability fluctuated dramatically from 2015 through 2020, during his first presidential bid and subsequent term in office. They show Trump and his wife Melania Trump claimed large deductions and losses and paid little or no income tax in several of those years.
Democrats were on a tight timeline to find a way to handle the returns once they obtained them, given that Republicans will take control of the House on Tuesday after winning a slim majority in November’s midterm elections.
The Democratic-controlled House passed a bill before it left on its winter recess that would mandate that the tax-collecting Internal Revenue Service complete audits of presidents’ tax filings within 90 days of their inaugurations.